Peer-reviewed research papers discussing the antimicrobial properties of copper-based metals
Here is a library of published papers and conference posters covering the laboratory and clinical studies conducted on the antimicrobial characteristics of solid copper and copper alloys over the last 20 years. Some papers are accessible here as pdfs, others have links to entries in various scientific libraries where full papers can be accessed via a subscription or for a cost.
If you have a paper to suggest we include here, please contact Marleine Williams, Project Co-ordinator, Copper Development Association.
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P Tandon, S Chhibber and R Reed, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (2005) 88:35-4, 14pp
The detection and enumeration of indicator bacteria such as Escherichia coli is used to assess the extent of faecal contamination of drinking water. On the basis of this approach, the effectiveness of storing water contaminated with faecal indicator bacteria in brass or earthen vessels (mutkas) of the type used in rural India have been investigated.
Suspensions of bacteria in sterile distilled water were maintained for up to 48 h in each vessel and enumerated by surface plate counts on nutrient agar (non-selective) and several selective coliform media at 37 °C either under standard aerobic conditions, or under conditions designed to neutralise reactive oxygen species (ROS), e.g. using an anaerobic cabinet to prepare plates of pre-reduced growth medium or by inclusion of sodium pyruvate in the growth medium, with incubation of aerobically-prepared plates in an anaerobic jar.
The counts obtained for E. coli decreased on short-term storage in a brass mutka; counts for selective media were lower than for equivalent counts for non-selective medium, with ROS-neutralised conditions giving consistently higher counts than aerobic incubation. However, after 48 h, no bacteria were cultivable under any conditions. Similar results were obtained using water from environmental sources in the Panjab, and from rural households where brass and earthern mutkas are used for storage of drinking water, with enumeration on selective coliform media (presumptive total coliforms). In all cases results indicated that, while storage of water in a brass mutka can inactivate E. coli and coliforms over a 48 h period, standard aerobic plate counting using selective media may not be fully effective in enumerating sub-lethally damaged bacteria.
H T Michels, S A Wilks and C W Keevil. The Second Global Congress Dedicated to Hygienic Coatings & Surfaces, Orlando, Florida, USA, 26-28 January, 2004, Paper 16, Published by Paint Research Association, Middlesex, UK, ISBN 0-9543164-5-2, 2004.
Tests the viability of E. coli O157:H7 on a variety of copper alloy surfaces. All tested copper alloys rendered the bacteria non viable after several hours. E. coli O157:H7 has been responsible for a number of food recalls and can survive on stainless steel for days. Results suggest copper alloys will be useful beyond food processing applications.
H T Michels, S A Wilks and C W Keevil, Proceedings of Copper 2003 - Cobre 2003, The 5th International Conference, November 30-December 2, 2003, Santiago, Chile, Vol. 1 - Plenary Lectures, Economics and Applications of Copper, pp. 439-450
Investigates the viability of E. coli O157:H7 on 25 copper alloy surfaces at 20C and 4C (refrigeration temperature). Bacteria reduction occurred with all alloys and was faster at the higher temperature and on alloys containing higher levels of copper. Further research is recommended to determine copper's effect on moulds and other organisms that cause respiratory infections.
A Publication of The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 2003.
P J Kuhn, Diagnostic Medicine, 1983.
Discusses the unique bactericidal properties of copper and brass compared to stainless steel and aluminum against various organisms. Results suggest that hospitals should utilise brass (copper alloy) hardware to minimise bacterial growth on these surfaces.
Copper and copper alloys are engineering materials that are durable, colourful and recyclable and are widely available in various product forms suitable for a range of manufacturing purposes. Copper and its alloys offer a suite of materials for designers of functional, sustainable and cost-effective products.
Copper and certain copper alloys have intrinsic antimicrobial properties (so-called ‘Antimicrobial Copper’) and products made from these materials have an additional, secondary benefit of contributing to hygienic design. Products made from Antimicrobial Copper are a supplement to, not a substitute for standard infection control practices. It is essential that current hygiene practices are continued, including those related to the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces.